Research into Green house structures in the periphery of Seoul

I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They're beautiful. Everybody's plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic. 

Andy Warhol 
Plastic is a word with multiple readings, its meanings multiply according to the context of the sentence.  From plastic as a physical material to plastic as mental condition, plastic is synonymous with as diverse topics as molding, superficial, cash, art, pliability, etc…
No reference to plastic in the context of Seoul can avoid mentioning Plastic Surgery, or rather the branch of architecture that deals with human body corrections.   Plastic Surgery is a Korean phenomena, and astonishingly part of everyday life to the extent that Seoul even has its own PS ghetto, Apgujeong. 
However the plastic I wish to discuss relates to a temporary form of architecture that inhabit Seoul’s green belt, and other forgotten pockets of the city, the architecture of the plastic green-house units.  These lightweight structures, undetectable using conventional architectural radars, have developed in symbiosis with the topography of the residue into an important and somehow forgotten architectural typology.
The formalism of the green-houses is rooted into the topography of the land and its settlement layouts possess an intricate complexity comparable to a form of urbanism.  They represent a typology of building, based on a fixed structural and material method, which allows for numerous functions and forms of architecture. Such structures are extremely malleable to both programme and site.
While venturing through Seoul, it is evident that these urban accidents are soon destined to be erased from the city-scape.  With land prices being at such a premium, these architectural anomalies are constantly being uprooted and forced out of the metropolis’ boundary, the last vestiges of a once rural city disappearing with them.
Plastic architecture is invisible, invisible not to the human eye, but invisible to human consciousness.  Both their physiognomy and temporal state equate in our minds to an immaterial architecture.  Yet, the galvanized steel frame and multipurpose polyethylene sheeting are very “real” materials.
Greenhouses were elaborated to turn in-arable land into arable land.  By trapping solar radiation they enabled plants to grow all year round, protecting the crops from both weather and animals. They house vegetables, flowers, fruits and often employ sophisticated hydroponic growing systems.  However in Seoul such mundane architecture is transformed into an excess of diverse scenarios, from the benign family house conversion to the more sinister dog kennel. 
These autonomous structures will one day disappear, as a trace of their ephemeral existence, I recorded their presence.

The above research was carried out as part of a research project funded by SNU (Seoul National University) between 2009- 2010.  The full article on the subject was published in SPACE Magazine October 2010 #515.


Boreum, Lee (SNU)
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